About Us

 

In the spring of 1994, a Stanford University student volunteering in the Alzheimer's Ward at the Palo Alto Veterans Affairs Administration Hospital discovered a group of patients suffering from loneliness. He made a vow that these patients, and others like them, would never know such despair again. With that promise, United Students for Veterans' Health (USVH) was born. The Stanford USVH program began with forty volunteers dedicating their afternoons and evenings to interact with the Alzheimer's patients by going on walks, playing games, and engaging in conversation. A call to serve echoed across the nation and USVH grew into what it is today: a student-led organization with chapters of caring volunteers at VA Hospitals across the nation

USVH strives to help long-term care patients in Veterans Affairs (VA) Hospitals by bringing student volunteers to engage the Veterans. Patients in long-term care at the VA Hospitals are often elderly, in many cases suffering from cognitive impairments such as Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia. Outside of family visits and planned events, patients may experience loneliness and confusion. The primary goal of USVH is to connect with veterans and make them feel appreciated.

Veteran's Hospital, California.

Veteran's Hospital, California.

Our Mission

USVH strives to help long-term care patients in Veterans Affairs (VA) Hospitals by bringing student volunteers to engage the Veterans. Patients in long-term care at the VA Hospitals are often elderly, in many cases suffering from cognitive impairments such as Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia. Outside of family visits and planned events, patients may experience loneliness and confusion. The primary goal of USVH is to connect with veterans and to make them feel appreciated.

Volunteers building a puzzle with veterans at the Menlo Park Veteran's Hospital.

Volunteers building a puzzle with veterans at the Menlo Park Veteran's Hospital.

Who We Are

USVH volunteers include high school, undergraduate, and graduate students. Our volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds and interests, all with the common goal of giving back to our veterans, who gave so much.

What We Do

USVH students volunteer at least two hours per week; activities with veterans vary between student-veteran pairs. Most students befriend and build lasting relationships with many veterans. As most veterans look forward to student visits, volunteers are asked to dedicate themselves to consistently appear at the Veterans Affairs Hospital each week. Consistent volunteering is also crucial to building meaningful relationships with their veterans.

On a typical day volunteering, students and veterans activities range from chatting, playing board games, walking around the building or an outdoor garden, looking at magazines together, or watching TV together. Some chapters organize weekly or monthly activities for both veterans and students to engage in. These special events also vary. Examples of special events held in the past at the Stanford Chapter include a performance by the Stanford Jazz Orchestra, a pumpkin-decorating party for Halloween, movie matinees complete with popcorn to munch on, origami-making parties, and an annual “Art in the Park” event at the Menlo Park Veterans Affairs Hospital, featuring carnival games and performances by different student groups.


Interested in volunteering? Our Stanford University Chapter takes volunteers at the start of every quarter. If you are interested in volunteering through Stanford or are interested in starting a chapter at your school, please contact us!